Zach Goode of Smash Mouth: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview

Zach Goode of Smash Mouth Interview

Feature Photo courtesy of Zach Goode

An Interview with Zach Goode of Smash Mouth

By Andrew Daly

Smash Mouth found themselves icons of ’90s pop music. With slick licks, fun basslines, and catchy hooks for days, albums like Fush Yu Mang (1997) and Astro Lounge (1999) will forever be burned in our brains.

Over the years, Smash Mouth has weaved in and out of the commercial limelight, mainly through the success of songs like “All Star,” “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “Then The Morning Comes,” and a now-classic cover of the Monkee’s “I’m a Believer.” Oh, and the latter being featured in Shrek didn’t hurt, either.

Many members have come and gone through Smash Mouth’s ranks, but the band has soldiered on. Still, since the band’s inception, Paul De Lisle (bass) and Steve Harwell (vocals) remained stalwarts of Smash Mouth’s touring and recording lineup. But that all changed in 2021, and a now infamous onstage incident led to Harwell being dismissed from Smash Mouth despite his status as one of the group’s original members.

It couldn’t have been an easy task replacing Harwell, especially given that he was the only voice that Smash Mouth had ever known. What’s more, Harwell had aided in the creation of many of Smash Mouth’s finest moments and had generally helped author their history. But beyond the pop iconiscm, if one thing has defined Smash Mouth, it’s the band’s never say died attitude.

In the end, Smash Mouth did find its new vocalist, Zach Goode, through an exciting turn of events which Goode details below. And while he doesn’t carry the weight of the band’s history when he takes the stage, he might just be harboring the load of Smash Mouth’s future. Time will tell.

As the frontman of a band rejuvenated, Zach Goode beamed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to recount his earliest hours in music, joining Smash Mouth, as well as his outlook as he and Smash Mouth move ahead.

As a young musician, what was the moment which first sparked your interest in music?

I got ahold of my dad’s old Beatles records and would play them endlessly, along with Cat Stevens and ELO. Those were my first musical memories. Later, when I was 8 or 9 years old, my neighbor gave me a copy of the first Elvis Costello cassette tape, “My Aim is True,” I remember singing along to it and learning all the lyrics. That was the first time I remember singing out loud and thinking it sounded good.

Who were some of your earliest influences that first shaped your style? How would you say that style has evolved as you’ve moved through your career?

In addition to Beatles, ELO, Cat Stevens, and Elvis Costello, I was kind of a theater kid, growing up in NYC and going to a lot of Broadway plays. My dad was also a big jazz guy, so I was exposed to Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, etc., at an early age. When I was 10 years old, I discovered Devo and was pretty obsessed with punk and new wave for a long time until I found Led Zeppelin in High School. After that came Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and hip-hop. All of those influences live inside me, but I always come back to The Beatles.

What were some of your earliest gigs where you first cut your teeth?

I was in a cover band in High School, so I was playing three sets a night in bars when I was 16 years old. I also did a lot of musical theater, including an off-Broadway show when I was 9 years old, so I had a lot of early experience playing in front of crowds. When I formed my first “real” band at age 21 in San Diego, within a few months, we played huge shows to crowds of 1000-2000 people at an All Ages club called SOMA. I have lots of great memories of playing big shows with fellow up-and-comers like Korn, Blink-182, Incubus, Sublime, etc.

How did all of that finally culminate in you joining Smash Mouth?

I played in many bands over the years and had lots of experience. That gave me the training and confidence to try out for Smash Mouth when the opportunity presented itself. “Luck” is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Were you a fan of the band back in the day? What did their music mean to you, and what memories did you associate with it?

I guess you could say I was a casual fan. I didn’t know the deep cuts. I was more into alternative hard rock/grunge and hip-hop during that period. But now that I know the material, I’m incredibly impressed with the songwriting and have a lot of respect for what they accomplished.

What makes you the perfect replacement for Steve Harwell? Do you consider yourself to be similar or entirely different?

I don’t know if I’m the perfect replacement. I personally don’t think I sound super similar, but people seem to think I do, and it’s a good fit. Fans have been very positive at shows.

With that in mind, will you try and emulate what Steve did, or will you provide your stamp on the band’s legacy tracks?

I’m just trying to be myself while still respecting the band’s legacy. I can never be just like him, and I feel like I bring something new to the table that people seem to respond to, so I hope just to keep doing that. You can never please everyone, so I just have to do my thing and hope the fans will give me a chance. So far, they have.

Your official introduction to the world came by way of a Rick Astley cover. What went into the choice to record the track? What was the recording experience like?

I believe the song was recorded for a soundtrack before I joined the band, but the vocals were never tracked. I was asked to record vocals as part of the audition process, so I laid them down here in L.A. We put the track together remotely. As to the band’s choice to record it, you’d have to ask them! But I think it was a great choice, and it’s quickly become a fan favorite and staple of our live set. It’s basically like having another hit in the set that everyone already knows the words to.

“4th of July” is your first original material with Smash Mouth. How did it come together?

That was a song that Paul [De Lisle] wrote, and we all sort of added our parts. It just has one of those earwormy hooks that get in your head and doesn’t leave.

With Smash Mouth being out of the studio for ten years, is there a full-length in the works? If so, what more can you tell s us?

We have already released two new songs and are just about to wrap up another one, so I imagine once we have 10 or 12 songs, we will release an album at some point. Maybe next summer? I have no idea! I hope it means they will be able to hear the new music more easily as it’s released. Getting put on playlists and soundtracks is extremely important these days, and hopefully, UMG can facilitate that moving forward.

With ’90s bands seemingly going viral through many interesting means of late, does Smash Mouth anticipate a second wind as it moves forward?

I hope so! Every show we play is, 5 or 10,000 people sing every word, so the audience is out there. No sleep until the Rock Hall of Fame!

As the band’s newest member and Smash Mouth’s voice going forward, what do you most want fans to know?

I want them to know that never fear; we are going to play “All-Star,” but there are a lot of other great songs along the way, so enjoy the show!

Zach Goode of Smash Mouth: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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